India got eliminated at the Super Eight level of the T20 World Cup in 2009 leading to public agony. In 2010 exactly the same or the worst happened. Both times the T20 World Cup followed immediately after the 46-day Indian Premier League (IPL) saga.
In a way the IPL is a blessed phenomenon. First time it clicked as it was a novelty. Second time it was away from home and became a novelty in South Africa. Third time lucky, as this time it was coming back to ‘sweet home’. While the revelers cried hoarse and hoarser the cricket lovers got increasingly piqued trying to enjoy whatever ‘cricket’ they got out of it. The revelers get trapped into an illusion of loyalties involving ‘home’ teams, eight franchises being named after major Indian cities, even if it means Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings) pitted against Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai Indians).
All the stars of Team India and others are in IPL. The tournament involves one and half months of continuous pressure play, public appearances, late night parties and traveling throughout India. Team India players tend to tire or get hurt. They cannot take the games lightly as they must help their bosses to get returns from their investments. The dirty big money, the glamour and sleaze, the attention and the media hype make them insensitive to national loyalty and pride. They get ferociously loyal to their ‘clubs’ only and increasingly indifferent to their ‘country’.
In T20 World Cup-2010 Team India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni went on making stupendous tactical mistakes and lost all the Super Eight matches. He failed miserably to motivate his team members on or off the field. More ominously he never once admitted his shortcomings and tried to blame the IPL late night parties and continuous traveling.
As in 2009 cricket lovers are agonized this time too, with more devastating impact thanks to the IPL scandal, the three consecutive infuriating losses and the players’ casual attitude.
It had come to such a head that nobody could be believed or taken seriously. The cricket Board and the team selectors lost their credentials with the team coach Gary Kirsten blaming the Team India members squarely for lack of motivation and not being mentally or physically fit. The former star cricketers have been saying precious little as many of them had been gagged with IPL money.
You cannot believe the media either. They had been hyping the IPL tournament with screaming headlines unbridled glamour mongering and unprecedented coverage. Now, with Team India turning the tables for genuine cricket lovers the media had been hyping the aftermath too. They are demanding Dhoni’s head and cutting off some other key players. But they are more likely to forget everything as soon as preparation for IPL-4 begins which promises to be longer than even 46 days with addition of two more teams.
Only genuine cricket lovers feel to avoid a cricketing tragedy fast unfolding the IPL must be scrapped or Team India players must not be allowed to be auctioned by the franchisees for the tournament. If nothing of the above happens IPL duration must be reduced to maximum 15 days and group games should take over round robin matches. What could be the justification of having a round robin of just eight mere clubs and each club playing as many as fourteen games before the semi final round?
Scrapping or banning the IPL would signify the much desired demise of big money influence on Indian cricket.